The best snacks are those with a higher profile of proteins instead of sugars. Snacks filled with protein give fabulous energy boosts. A protein is a substance formed by a conglomeration of bonded amino acids. The proteins, and by extension the amino acids, found in foods are the building blocks of the body's cells, vital for maintaining all the cells in the body and providing the energy the body needs to function.
How does protein boost energy? Proteins are a far different energy source than carbohydrates. When a person eats carbohydrates they are broken into sugars, which provide quick energy. However, this energy only lasts a short time, eventually leaving the person feeling tired. Proteins provide a much longer source of energy than carbohydrates do. The energy from proteins is a more consistent fuel that powers the body. In addition, adequate protein in the diet guards against fatigue, disease and moodiness. If you want to know your body's protein requirements, Georgetown University provides a helpful table for determining how many grams of protein men and women need each day.
When choosing protein for snacks it's important to understand that there are two main types of protein; complete and incomplete. A protein is considered to be complete if it contains all of the essential amino acids necessary for body growth and function. In general, animal products contain complete proteins while plant-based products are incomplete. However, consuming a variety of plant-based products can still give a person all the amino acids they need by combining to form a complete protein. As an example, combining grains and legumes will form a complete protein.
Here are a few ideas of some protein-filled snacks that can provide long-lasting energy boosts:
- A hard-boiled egg
- Half of a tuna fish sandwich
- A glass of milk
- A cup of yogurt
- Half a cup of cottage cheese
- 2 T. Peanut butter
- A small handful of raw almonds, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds
- Beef jerkey
- A stick of string cheese
- 2 T. hummus with raw veggie sticks
Iliana Spector is a health writer for Assisted Living Today, a leading source of information on a range of topics related to elderly care and assisted living.